I think Microsoft’s approach to the interaction of humans and computers has pretty much always been wrong and, because of its ubiquity, has trained an entire generation of people to think of computers as the enemy.
It’s not that Microsoft missed these opportunities — they just blew them…
Apple was successful in these niches mainly because they did a more thoughtful job at a time when hardware was finally available with enough power at the right price to get the job done.
My father’s rule was to imagine that you have the solution already. It is a great way to solve problems.
I’d ask him a question: How many horses does it take to do something? And he’d answer right away, “Five horses; can you tell me if I am right or wrong?” By the time I’d figured out that it couldn’t be five, he’d say, “Well if it’s not five, then it must be X. Can you solve for that?” And I could, because the problem was already laid out from the test of whether five horses was correct.
Doing it backward removed the anxiety from the answer. The anxiety, of course, is the fear that the problem can’t be solved—at least not by me.